Another one of our close Arab allies are back in the news to remind us that basic freedoms are not part of our common alliance. Oman has shut down The Week newspaper after it published an article viewed as too sympathetic to homosexuality in the Gulf state. The country has a gay population but it insists that these citizens live like criminals under Islamic prohibitions of homosexuality. The Week is the largest circulation English-langauge weekly in the country.
In response to the government crackdown, the newspaper was forced to publish a full, front page apology for the story. In one repressive act, Oman was able to deny free speech, freedom of the speech, religious freedom, freedom of association, and privacy.
The action came after a member of the Shura Council, Tawfiq al-Lawati, tweeted a complaint that the article was advocating homosexuality and could be read to suggest that the country is a safe haven for gays. al-Lawati wanted to be sure that gays got the opposite message: that they are neither safe nor welcomed in Oman.
Under the laws of the Islamic government, you can be put in jail for three years for simply being gay. That is considered progressive by the standards of some of our other allies.